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Awful Announcing: At The Movies

Awful announcing. We all know it. We all love it (Except when we hate it). It’s as much a part of our sports culture as HGH, cheating college football coaches and making fun of the WNBA. I mean honestly, can  you even remember what the baseball playoffs were like before Tim McCarver? Because sadly, I can’t.

But what happens when Awful Announcing goes to the big screen?

Over the years we’ve seen the guys that we can’t get away from on Saturday’s and Sunday’s take over Hollywood as well. There was Jim Nantz in Tin Cup. Dick Vitale yelling and screaming through Blue Chips. And of course Bob Costas and Al Michaels award winning performance in BasEketball (Ok, maybe they weren’t award winning, but at least they were memorable, right? Anyone?).

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With that, this is the start of a new series here at Awful Announcing, called, “Awful Announcing At the Movies,” where we’ll be breaking down all the botched calls and blown names, from some of your least favorite announcers on the silver screen.

Enjoy, and as always, feel free to submit your own thoughts on some movies we need to touch on going forward.

5. Brian Kenny, Bert Sugar and Two Other Guys You’ve Never Heard of: Rocky Balboa

Ok, this one really has nothing to do with the announcers themselves, it’s more of a rant. Truthfully, the announcers weren’t bad. They had no terrible lines or funny dialog. But at the same time, the one scene they were in, set up the goofy, catastrophic plot of this utterly un-enjoyable movie.

For those of you who’ve forgotten (or blocked it out of your memory with some very expensive therapy), the premise of Rocky Balboa is simple: During a Friday Night Fights telecast, these four announcers are having a debate on who would’ve won had they fought in their primes: The current champ Mason “The Line,” Dixon, or all-time great Rocky Balboa.

Unable to decide, they settle things the old-fashioned way: By going to a goofy virtual re-enactment of what the fight would’ve looked like had the two boxers met in the ring. Balboa proves victorious.

Which would’ve been fine if the scene ended there and was never mentioned again.

However, it’s that re-enactment that sets the tone for the rest of the movie. After seeing the virtual fight, Dixon becomes infuriated, as the announcers call into question the competition he’s faced, and his ability to beat the great Balboa. Meanwhile the brainless, not-smarter-than-a-5th-grader Balboa see’s the re-enactment himself, and it convinces him that he just might have something left in the tank. Balboa decides to prove it, by coming out of retirement to fight Dixon, a boxer young enough to be his grandson.

Basically on a 1-10 “Real life believability scale,” with 10 being “This definitely could happen,” and 1 being “Hell would have to freeze over, and this still isn’t feasible,” this scene, and ultimately this movie, ranks in at about a -4,388.

Forget the plot for a second, and let’s go to the scene itself. Because if you were young, good looking, it was Friday night and you were living in Philadelphia, what’s the chance that you’d be out at a bar… Watching Friday Night Fights? Zero percent? Or zero percent?

Now I know Rocky is the hometown champ and all, but when’s the last time anyone under 30 has actually watched boxing period? 1996? Forget the fact that everyone is in a crowded bar cheering on a video game re-enactment.

Also, we’ve got to break down, “Mason ‘The Line,’ Dixon.” Because it’s arguably the worst name in the history of, well, names. Honestly, it sounds like the director lost a bet, and had to let someone’s six-year-old name the title character. What was their first choice? George “The Bridge,’ Washington?

Finally, there’s the movie itself.

Am I really supposed to believe that a 60-year-old geriatric (who was brain dead when he was 25 by the way), is allowed to get into the ring with the heavyweight champ, simply because a computer program told him he would win? Then I’m to believe that the heavyweight champ would actually agree to this fight? This is just terrible. Even the Nevada Gaming Commission wouldn’t sanction this fight.

Ok… Maybe they would, but that’s not the point. This movie just stinks.

Announcer Grade: Incomplete

4. Verne Lundquist: Happy Gilmore

This is one of the few cases where Lundquist’s announcing in the movies is better than it actually is in real life. The reason being, that in real life, nobody is better at botching names and screwing up calls altogether than Lundquist. Luckily, on the set of this movie, Lunquist seemingly got as many chances as he needed to pronounce the names “Shooter McGavin,” and “Happy Gilmore,” correctly. My guess is he needed quite a few.

And because of that, this scene is a little disappointing. Lundquist is calm, cool and handles the call well. Which would never happen in real life.

As a matter of fact, if this were a real call, here’s how Lundquist likely would’ve sounded.

“We’re headed to the final tee here at Augusta National, on the final day of the 2010 Masters. Slick McGavin is currently holding the narrowest of one shot leads over Slappy Gilman, who is coming on strong. Gilmore, is coming off a double-birdie at 17, after hitting a 472 yard drive off the cart path and onto the green, setting up a two-putt, and this climatic final hole.

Up to the tee steps McGavel…ahh…Cadaver…ahh……ahh…. Back to you Jim Nantz.”

Announcer Grade: C (For Lunquist sounding like a real announcer, making any scene he’s in utterly unbelievable)

3. Bob Costas and Al Michaels: BaseKetball

I really can’t take credit for this one, as my editor and boss Ben Koo did all the legwork on the quotes (I just pray he hasn’t actually watched this movie anytime recently).

Since I can’t add anything better than the quotes themselves, here are some of the best. Thanks Ben!

Bob Costas: And joining us in the booth this evening, big fan of BASEketball, Tony Nocholino, who plays, as you know, Latino cut-up “Scooter” on the new hit comedy series “What’s the Difference?” Airing between “Recycled Junk” starring Lisa Campbell and “Same Old Crap” featuring teen heartthrob Mark Swenson. All part of the great fall lineup on our network’s “Who gives a rat’s ass?” Thursdays.

Bob Costas: You’re excited? Feel these nipples!

Bob Costas: It’s hard to believe that just five years ago this game was played only in driveways.
Al Michaels: [camera shifts to Beers cheerleaders] Yes, it’s also hard to believe that just five years ago those girls were only in grade school.

Bob Costas: What an unfortunate thing to happen on dozen-egg night!

Announcer Grade: B+ (These quotes alone aren’t enough to actually convince me to watch this movie again. But I love the way that Costas and Michaels don’t take themselves all too seriously. Nothing beats self-deprecating humor)

2. Brent Musberger and Dan Fouts: The Waterboy

With college football season upon us, this list wouldn’t be complete without Musberger’s call of the SCLSU Mud Dogs stunning Bourbon Bowl victory in The Waterboy. Alongside him was Dan Fouts.

While these two aren’t as entertaining and funny as Costas and Michaels (Then again, who is these), they do have a few good lines.

(On a side note, although he’s not an announcer, the line of the movie may have come from Lawrence Taylor, when he says, “Which brings me to my next point. Don’t smoke crack!” Hmm, wonder if he’s got an advice on teenage prostitutes?)

Back to Musberger and Fouts:

Brent Musburger: That’s the half, and the Mud Dogs trail this one, big, 27-0. We’ll see if Coach Klein can make any adjustments, for the second half.
Dan Fouts: [taking off headset] Well, they’d better, ’cause they suck.

Dan Fouts: The waterboy just needed some water!
Brent Musburger: [his voice oozing with sarcasm] Wow, Dan, you think that up all by yourself?
Dan Fouts: Shut up, Brent.

Dan Fouts: Bobby Boucher sure knocked the poop out of him.
Brent Musburger: [looks at Dan, startled] Poop??!?

Announcer Grade: B (Just because, where else are you ever going to hear Brent Musberger use the word, “Poop?”)

1. Bob Uecker as Harry Doyle: Major League I and II

Simply an overseer of the Indians unexpected run to the AL East title in the Major League I, Major League II is where we see the full range of Doyle’s skill as the top radio commentator in baseball movie history.

Honestly, the guy has it all: An innate understanding of the game of baseball. A dry, sarcastic wit. Not to mention a raging alcohol problem that would make Mel Gibson blush by comparison.

While there are too many great lines to name, here are just a handful, pulled from Major League II:

Harry Doyle: Even with Dorn in the owner’s box, the Indians are solid favorites to repeat in the East, and to go all the way to the World Series. And why not? Look at the lineup we have coming back. First of all, the Cuban Crusher, the voodoo man with a bad attitude, Pedro Cerrano. Even though his training methods were a little unusual, Pedro finished in the top five in homers, RBI’s, slugging percentage and total baldness.

Also back is centerfielder Willie Mays Hayes, who came out of nowhere to lead the league in great catches and stolen bases. We’re told he starred in an action movie during the offseason, where he not only did his own stunts, but even his own acting.

And finally one of the brightest young stars in the game today, Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn. Vaughn began the season in the uniform of the California Penal League and had some control problems early on. But with the help of a pair of black horn-rims, he went on to set a Major League record for strikeouts in a season by an ex-car thief.

Harry Doyle: So a tough loss for the Indians as Pedro Cerrano doubles off a pigeon and is tagged out while administering CPR before the tying run could score. Funny game ain’t it Monty?

Harry Doyle: Baker swings and sends a real screamer towards short. Rapp up with it, fires to first… and Baker beats it with a head-first slide. So the Indians have a runner. I think I’ll wet my pants.

Harry Doyle: My God! Good news fans, the Indians are showing signs of life for the first time in weeks. As a matter of fact they appear to be beating the crap out of each other. It looks like Willie Hayes is trying to hit Rick Vaughn, and why not, everyone else in the league does. Hayes swings and misses. I don’t know Monte, it looks like Vaughn is carrying his left a little low. This could hurt him in the later rounds.

Announcer Grade: A+ (Find me a better announcer. Go ahead, I dare you)

Be sure to follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres

And to read all his work, please visit www.aarontorres-sports.com

About Aaron Torres

Aaron Torres works for Fox Sports, and was previously a best-selling author of the book 'The Unlikeliest Champion.' He currently uses Aaron Torres Sports to occasionally weigh-in on the biggest stories from around sports. He has previously done work for such outlets as Sports Illustrated, SB Nation and Slam Magazine.

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